Search Results for: alicia

BadGirlChats: The Birthdays of Rita and Alicia the Web Strategist

NICOLE: How do you feel about birthdays? Now that you’ve had so many, has the pleasure dimmed?

SYLVIA: Perhaps for you since you are so much older than I am. I hope this is a disinterested inquiry. I hope that it does not mean that you will not be bringing me lavish gifts on my birthday or taking me out for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

NICOLE: Of course, your highness, your birthday will be celebrated in a grand manner as usual. I’ve written to the Obama administration to ask that your day be made into a national holiday, but no response yet. It would help if you had your birthday on the same day every year.

SYLVIA: I like to keep my friends on their toes. This year it will be on St. Patrick’s day and then again on Mother’s Day.

Today we celebrate the birthday of our web strategist, Alicia, which happens to be on the same day as Sylvia’s daughter Rita. Wow! Happy birthday Alicia!

Click the giant comic to enlarge…

The Reindeer Dog: Guest Post by Alicia Eler

Today’s BadGirlChats guest post by Alicia Eler asks the eternal question, “Are you mature enough to own a dog?” In the meantime, Sylvia and I hope you are writing your sibling stories, due next Monday, January 2, 2011. Include a drawing or an unflattering photo if you have it. Then click HERE to send your stories and drawings or photos directly to Nicole Hollander.


By Alicia Eler

Trish and I were driving to the cafe in her cute little blue car. I am terrible at giving directions because I get too excited about a story I’m telling. As a result, I send Trish down a maze of one-way streets that lead us farther and farther from the cafe. We are lost, and it is my fault. Her patience is waning. That’s when I spot the dog. A dog wearing a red-and-green elf hat, topped off with a fluffy white ball and reindeer horns. To accessorize, the dog wears reindeer hoof booties.
Trish slows down. I know it’s time to take the picture.

“Pull over!” I demand.

“Don’t let the dog’s owner see you take a picture of his reindeer dog!” Trish says.

I glare at her. She pulls over.

I leap out of the car, Trish’s iPhone in hand. I announce myself.

“Hello sir, what a festive pooch you have!”

The man is thrilled that I am interested in his dog. “Oh yes we got all dressed up,” he says, smiling and nodding at his dog. “Her name’s Bonnie.” Bonnie remains sitting, her tongue hanging out of her mouth. She’s ready for her close-up.

“May I?” I ask, sliding Trish’s iPhone out of my coat pocket. The man smiles.

Bonnie remains perfectly still as I begin shooting photos. “Look at those reindeer slippers! And that hat! Bonnie, you’re a star.”

Bonnie is unperturbed.

Seven pictures in, Bonnie begins eating snow. She is very comfortable in front of the camera. I could do this all day. Bonnie is the Marilyn Monroe of dogs.

The owner turns to me and asks, “If you love dogs so much, why don’t you have one of your own?”

“Well, I don’t have dog because I’m not responsible enough,” I answer, slouching back toward Trish’s car, embarrassed.

“Get a dog! Then you’ll grow up,” he shouts.

Bonnie looks up for a moment, then returns to her snow snack.

When the Window Guys Come to Change the Windows for Winter, I Get Paranoid: Guest Post by Alicia Eler

SYLVIA: She shouldn’t be encouraged.

NICOLE: I know, you want to be the only paranoid in the room.

SYLVIA: I can top her anyway. Last night someone came into my living room and changed the windows while I was asleep, and they weren’t even the windows I ordered!

When Large Foreign Men Enter My Home to do Something Ordinary Like Change The Windows, I Become Paranoid

By Alicia Eler

The night before last, I received a pleasant note from my landlords:

Just a reminder that the window installers will be here bright and early tomorrow morning. Please make sure the space around the windows are clear and all animals are secured. Please take down any window treatments as well. Tomorrow’s temperatures will be quite cold. You may want to make arrangements to be in a warm place.  Keith will be around to coordinate the workers. We’re looking forward to a warmer winter for you all. Sincerely, Joni (& Keith).

I had known about the window guys for at least a month, yet the note startled me.

And then, I became fearful. What time would they be here? What time should I have all of my stuff moved? I will have to pile precious belongings on top of one another in some random area of the house, where they do not belong, so that complete strangers can walk into my room with their beige, hard-soled construction worker boots. What if there’s dog poop on their boots, and then they step all over my yoga mat? Then they’ll sit on my bed amongst my pile of clean laundry (including underwear and a bra I still haven’t put away even though I did laundry four days ago), and let all of the cold air into my house. This is all just to change the windows.

I send a panicked email to the landlords, saying:

What time will the window guys be here tomorrow morning?

I do not receive a reply.

The next morning arrives and I begrudgingly roll out of bed. I try and guestimate what time the window guys will arrive, but soon I become involved in my daily morning back exercises and completely forget that they’re coming. Since I’ve forgotten, perhaps they will, too.

At 9am sharp two large Polish men and my nervous landlord, Keith, enter through the backdoor. Keith is trying to explain quickly which windows he would like replaced. They move fast, stomping about the house. I am startled, and then realize that I’ve moved nothing away from the windows like Joni (& Keith) so politely asked me to do.

Three of the five windows that need replacing are surrounded by my stuff. I apologize half-heartedly. My excuse is that my alarm didn’t go off. Keith ignores me. The Polish window guys hardly speak English so they don’t hear my squeaky excuses. No one cares.

As the window guys stomp into my bedroom, I imagine myself in a World War II movie where the Nazis have invaded yet another Jewish home, and the Jewish resident of that home reaches for her last possessions, attempting to keep something from the ravenous Germans. With the window guys’ backs turned to me, I slip into my room and grab my flowered cloth which holds all of my gold necklaces and bracelets that were given to me by my parents and grandmother. I slide out of the bedroom and slip the bundle of gold into the bottom drawer of the bookshelf that stands in the living room. Hopefully the Polish window guys haven’t seen me do this. If they have, it would be very easy to steal my jewelry. Maybe it is time to invest in a safe, so that I won’t have to become paranoid about things like this.

Cold air blasts into my house. It’s 10 degrees outside. Five windows will be replaced today with newer, sounder windows that will keep the heat in. I should be grateful but I am too busy worrying about if the window guys will smell my underwear after I leave the house.

I take the chance, and walk outside into the frozen air toward Starbucks.

From Miss Universe To Ms. Vote

Donald Trump has lost yet another vote – the vote of newly naturalized citizen, Alicia Machado. She happens to also be a former Miss Universe that he later shamed and name-called. Well done, Trump. And congratulations, Ms. Machado!

Syl Does It for Love Because There Ain’t No Other Way

I knew the axe would fall. Occasionally I would glance up and there it was, hanging by a thread. I’d spent a year finding a website strategist and then months fiddling with the design (thanks, Matt and Tom). I knew that Sylvia needed an online presence, but we had all the time in the world.

Suddenly, the Chicago Tribune dropped Sylvia. I focused as well as I could with a hatchet protruding from my head. (Okay, I’ll stop using that metaphor.) The result is

Sylvia is still in syndication, appearing in other papers around the country, which is why I’m able to put up new cartoons every day. I do it, however, for half of what I earned when Sylvia appeared in the Tribune.

Facing an acute need to replace this lost income, I thought I would tap my longstanding desire to write essays on subjects I felt passionate about or silly events that caught my fancy. Placing these essays on a blog, I believed, would create a new revenue stream, quickly swelling to restore what had dried up. This is an example of Magical Thinking.

Recently one of Bad Girl’s fans asked if we always suggest clicking on the day’s comic to make it bigger because every click makes money. Oh… if only.  I explained that we suggest enlarging the view because two friends wrote in, confessing that the print in the cartoons was too tiny for them to read and they could never find their glasses in the morning.

As I’ve worked on the blog, I’ve found new directions to take. I interviewed several talented young women cartoonists and ran their cartoons. Showing the work of young women cartoonists will be an ongoing part of BadGirls, so do send me your work.

I’m also interested in other kinds of storytelling and other voices; several of these have already appeared as guest bloggers. I have been featuring essays by writers I admire on the subject, “Long Dinners,” about sharing with others a meal that turns out to be revelatory, amusing or devastating.

Yet the need to face financial facts remains. Consequently, we will soon be experimenting with Google ad sense (non-intrusive print ads) as a way to offset some of our expenses. Truth be told, we blog for love. Love and money would be perfect, but that is not the case at the moment. The love is abundant; my tech wizard and my editor adore me, but I still have to pay them. Right now, the only income BadGirls generates is an occasional order for a signed cartoon copy.

But hey! Wipe that tear from your eye! If you’ve got a great monetizing idea, send it to me. Anything will be considered except starting a troupe of trained cats.


Nicole and Sylvia

BadGirlChats in the formative years…

Nicole at age 10

Sylvia at age 10, with her 23-year-old cat

Susan Figliulo, Nicole's longtime editor

Alicia, the tech wizard & web strategist

Interview with Chicago Cartoonist and Artist Lilli Carré

A Guest Post By Alicia Eler

I first came across Lilli Carré’s work at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s exhibition “New Chicago Comics” (Jan 8–30, 2011). I had been thinking about women cartoonists ever since seeing the exhibition StatiCCreep at Chicago’s Las Manos Gallery that same month. Here’s my interview with Chicago-based Lilli Carré, an animator and a cartoonist who makes comics, illustrations and hand-drawn, animated short films.

Alicia: When did you first start drawing? What led you to comics/cartoons as opposed to painting or drawing?

Lilli: I’ve always been a drawer, since I was a little kid. My parents would keep my sister and I occupied by just rolling out sheets of butcher paper on the floor; they’d give us pens and let us have at it. I grew up reading comics, but I started drawing them myself shortly after coming to Chicago to go to college. What draws me to comics and animation more than singular paintings and drawings is the narrative that can be built between putting images next to each other. I like writing stories, as well as the challenge of what can be told in the combination of images and text, rather than just one or the other. There’s such exciting exploration to be done there. I feel I can express my ideas best through storytelling, and in comics and animation there are really no limits to the world you can create, since all one needs is a pen and paper (and lots and lots of time of course). I like that in these mediums, I don’t need money or other people or a lot of resources to work on these projects, I mostly just need my ideas and a crazy work ethic.

Still from "Head Garden" by Lilli Carre

Alicia: Did you always know you wanted to be a cartoonist? What’s it like to tell stories through only images as opposed to telling stories through both image and text?

Lilli: As mentioned in the previous question, I began to make comics after starting college here. There were so many great alternative and self-published comics in Chicago, I started reading a lot of interesting new work that I hadn’t come across before, and it jumpstarted my interest in making comics myself and putting them out in the same way. I started doing animation in school first, and I figured out how I drew my characters, how I would build stories from a blank white slate. Also through animation, you have to draw things so many times over and over, it really makes you simplify your forms, and represent objects, people and landscapes through fewer lines. Once I started drawing that way, it was easy to translate that style to comics, though it was refreshing to be able to focus on each panel a little more than every frame of an animation. The reason I switch back and forth between working in animation and then working in comics is that they sort of relieve each other– sometimes it feels good to draw many frames more fleetingly, where each drawing itself doesn’t matter as much but I’m rather thinking of the overall shape and movement of the group of images altogether, more intuitive work. When that becomes exhausting, I can switch to working on a comic, where the whole page composition is considered and I get to spend a good amount of time on each panel. I usually work on more abstracted narratives in animation and use comics to tell stories that are more clearly narrative or structured, although they sometimes walk the line between the two.

To answer the other part of your question, I don’t know what I was wearing when I started working in comics and animation, I might have been sitting wearing several sweaters. I never declared “And now, I will be a cartoonist!”, but I increasingly got excited about working in these forms, and now I can’t help but constantly think of new stories that I want to put to paper in both of these ways, and I can’t imagine stopping.

"Nine Ways To Disappear" by Lilli Carre

Alicia: You also illustrate stories that you write, like Nine Ways to Disappear. How do you find it different illustrating your own stories as opposed to illustrating stories by other people, like The Fir Tree, an adaptation of a Hans Christan Andersen story.

Lilli: For illustrating my own stories in Nine Ways to Disappear, it was different than my usual comics because it was just one panel per page, so therefore seemed more like illustration since the images weren’t being read next to each other in classic comics format. I wanted to make the book feel like a little picture book, and for most of the stories in the collection, I wrote out the words and then illustrated each line one at a time. It was just a different way of working that I hadn’t done before, and it allowed me to work piece by piece rather than have the whole thing scripted and mapped out like usual. As far as The Fir Tree, It was cool to be asked to work with a narrative other than my own, let alone a story by Hans Christian Andersen, whose wildly depressing fairytales I love. I didn’t want to change his text at all, and it became more of an illustration project rather than a comic. There are many earlier editions of the story with quaint and solemn illustrations, and I wanted to give the story a completely different feel through my more stylized full color illustrations of it, to contrast the darkness of the text. I liked the challenge of trying to give a new face to an older story.

Alicia: What are some major influences on your work? Other artists? A particular book? Life events?

Lilli: I’ll just name a few of my influences in a short list here, because a question like this is always hard to answer, as there are so many ways to respond: Norman McLaren, Priit Parn, Harry Smith, Roy Andersson, Tove Jansson, Samuel Beckett, weather, Julie Doucet, Mark Beyer, George Herriman, Mike Leigh, early Lucas Arts computer games, Charles Laughton, personal life events, the Chicago Imagists, Jean Renoir, Mad Magazine, Chicago, the west coast, White Noise, John Cheever stories, plants.

Alicia: What’s your art-making schedule like? When do you make work the best (night, morning)? How do you make sure you make time?

Lilli: I get the most work done during daylight hours. Sometimes I have trouble concentrating at night, I get fidgety. I think I’m more efficient when I feel like I have to make the best of the day at the start of the morning, when I get out of bed, make my coffee and assess the best thing to work on and get started right away. I feel like I have a self-imposed constant pressure to use my time to get a good chunk of work done each day. My life is very much run by a strong sense of guilt about needing to do this at all times, which I suppose helps me work but I can’t shake it. I also work a part-time job three days a week and do freelance illustration/animation, so my independent projects are worked on between those things. The way my life is right now, I make just enough money to squeak by, while still having some time each week to work on my comics and animation projects. In a dream life I’d have more time to do this, but for now this’ll do, and there’s nothing like a Chicago winter to make you want to stay inside under a blanket and work away!

To see more of Lilli Carre’s work, check out her website:

Boehner Stops Crying, Tries to Redefine Rape: Introducing H.R. 3, The “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act”

Hey John Boehner, this one's for you!

Guest post by Alicia Eler

Speaker of the House John Boehner has momentarily stopped crying on national television so that he can focus on something that the Republicans feel is far more important—outlawing abortion for the majority of rape victims.

In her article “John Boehner’s push to redefine rape,” writer Sady Doyle explains H.R. 3, which seeks to bring back to slippery term “forcible rape”:

H.R. 3. The “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act” is bad in all the ways that Hyde and Stupak-Pitts were bad, but it’s worse, too: It seeks to make Hyde federal law. Like previous measures, H.R. 3 would have been widely decried, regardless of anything else it contained. But it just so happens to contain one clause that makes it worse than all of those previous measures. It just so happens to redefine rape.

Whereas Stupak-Pitts provides an exemption if “the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest,” and Hyde contains exemptions that are similar, H.R. 3 only provides exemptions if the pregnancy results from “an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest.”

Maybe this is really about the fact that the Republicans don’t want to come out and say that they don’t think women deserve equal rights. And if women aren’t people who deserve equal rights, they certainly should not have rights to something so basic as abortion. Men don’t ever need to get abortions, so women shouldn’t either, right?

Click HERE to read the full text of H.R. 3 on

Sylvia Needs Smart Volunteers for Research on Women Cartoonists

"A Century of Women Cartoonists" by Trina Robbins

I idly mentioned to my friend Alicia the other day that the number of women cartoonists—seven—in the StatiCCreep Exhibition of Sequential Art at Las Manos Gallery exceeded the number of syndicated women cartoonists at some number too vast for me to calculate. She said something like “You lie!” or “Prove it you irredeemable feminist!”

So I call on you, men and women readers to open the pages of your local paper tomorrow and count the number of women cartoonists and send me their names and the names of their strips. If you have excess energy please compare the number of male characters, including animals. (If you’re a guy, you tend to default to male characters. It’s only natural.)

Okay! Will you take it on? Thank you! Love, Nicole and Sylvia

Nicole Hollander and BadGirlChats featured in the Windy City Times

“In February 2010, Nicole Hollander’s long-standing comic strip, Sylvia, was axed by the Chicago Tribune, leaving the cartoonist without a place in her hometown paper. The strip is still carried by 30-odd newspapers, but Hollander decided to take the irascible and sharp-tongued Sylvia into another dimension. This year, she hired social-media consultant Alicia Eler to work with her on crafting a web presence for her character. Hollander, famously liberal on social issues like gay marriage, updates a new blog [ ] with commentary and archival cartoons. She recently published The Sylvia Chronicles: 30 Years of Graphic Misbehavior from Reagan to Obama [ The New Press, $19.95, 144 pages ]. In a recent interview, she spoke about Sylvia’s new life, the future of cartooning, and what it means to be a Chicago feminist.”

Click HERE to read the full article on the Windy City Times website.

Do You Have a Sibling Story?

We all have sibling stories, right?

Ever since I saw the comments on my paranoia post I have longed to tap into my paranoid base…I know here is an huge  reservoir of writing talent lurking around, waiting to be discovered!

Here are the BadGirl paranoid posts, just to go your memory:

Click here to read “Are You Paranoid?”

Click here to read “How Paranoid Are You Compared to Your Friends?”

Click here to read Alicia’s guest post, “When The Window Guys Come to Change the Windows, I Get Paranoid.”

Now, here’s your chance. Send me a story (under 200 words, please) on topics that I select. I hate to be bossy, but it’s my blog right? Click here to send the story directly to me, Nicole Hollander.

I sent “How Drinking Saved my Sibling Relationship” to my long-time editor and friend who has 7 , 8 or 12 sisters, I never remember, and she would like to contribute. Here’s the first paragraph of my story to be followed on Tuesday by the remainder and by the 2 cartoons trips I drew to commemorate the sister incident.

Then we will run Alicia’s Reindeer Dog story, which asks the eternal question: “Are you mature enough to own a dog?” on Wednesday. And then next week on Monday we will run your sibling  stories. Oh, and not that I want to put any pressure on you, if you have a charming drawing to go with it and a scanner, or a photograph, send one or both!

Thanks. Get cracking writers!

Nicole Hollander: How Drinking Saved My Sibling Relationship

We are not those sisters who are best friends. We are not those sisters. We are never photographed and interviewed for those coffee-table books about the special bond between sisters.

We are sisters who have fights in restaurants and carry on, shouting invective in the middle of busy streets in those rare times that we are together alone. We spend years not talking and ignoring e-mail messages and having terse phone conversations. She accuses me of leaving her wedding insultingly early. I am amazed I went at all. She married three times; surely I’ve done enough.